Why Disney Won’t Be Hiring Me Anytime Soon

RWA Nationals 2010 took place at the Swan and Dolphin Resort. I’d booked my conference room too late to sleep on site, but I was cosily ensconced in the nearby Disney Yatch Club. Believe me, that was no hardship unless you counted the twice-daily walk I did outside to and from the festivities. (July Florida weather certainly explains why Southern women used to use the word “glow.” I don’t think my wattage hit less than “halogen-quality” the entire trip.)

Anyway, there’s so much to say about the conference itself I don’t know where to begin. Some of it’s up already on Writer Unboxed. More is to come when I’ve processed it. I learned a ton. I’m grateful for the experience. But the easy part of my trip turned out to be lessons about craft. More challenging were the insights about people, including myself.

Did you know it’s possible to believe you are humble when your ego is the size of the universe?

I mentioned earlier that Disneyland is not my favorite stomping ground. Despite being pampered, cosseted and cheer-cheer-cheerily greeted everywhere I went, there’s a festering hole in my psyche which resists being cajoled into happiness. You probably knew this about me already, yes?

Let me be clear: there’s a lot to admire about the Orlando theme park and environs. Had I visited it a decade ago when I had small children, I would have appreciated their orientation to safety and service, the cleanliness and predictability. From the vantage point of adulthood, though, those very attributes began to…chafe.

For instance, one night we had a thunderstorm, which was glorious. I love storms. Love. I won’t risk my safety, but when there’s wind stirring my hair, rain on my face and everything feels so elemental, it hits a sweet spot in me. So I watched the storm for a while from the safety of the veranda. I got high on the smell of ozone, the lightning strikes I could see from beyond Universal Studios. When all hint of danger had passed and the rain had slowed to a soft drizzle, I decided to make a circuit of the Boardwalk.

Never happened. It couldn’t. Positioned at each doorway, walkie talkies in hand, were smiling but resolute “cast members”, determined to save me from myself. I reasoned with them. I reassured. I had a hairy arm placed across the doorway at chest height, just in case I thought to make a break for it.

I don’t know about you, but that attitude makes my teeth hurt. It constitutes a sneaky form of aggression. I immediately want to push back. And I really wonder what they would have done if I had. Probably nothing more sinister than make me sign a ten-page contract, promising not to sue them if I caught pneumonia, but still… (If you’re not catching on yet, this next part’s your hint I wouldn’t flourish in a totalitarian regime.)

Other signs of condescension:

  • Disney sells no gum on its property. None. But feel free to buy the $7 breath mints sold in the convenience stores. And no, I’m not joking about the price. Don’t get my cheap, sorry self started on the price.
  • If you handed a female staff a hijab or veil, you’d be hard-pressed to distinguishe them from a devout Muslim woman or nun. All I can guess is that Disney wants no guest troubled by a hint of messy sexuality.

Also, I found the lack of wildlife downright creepy. Crescent Lake is beautiful, but other than weeds, I saw no living creatures in its depths. There are no mosquitos, even at dusk. The ducks present can be found about three feet from your ankles, where they docilely await their next meal. The bunnies nibbling on the grass won’t flee until you’re within arm’s-length. The only sign I saw that Nature hadn’t been primped/pruned/compelled into strict conformity was during a morning walk when hundreds of centipedes crossed from one side of the path to the other. Oh, and the sun and humidity! Alas, Disney can do nothing about that. 😉

The entire set-up reminded me of my practice, where the too-perfect always concealed something ominous:  anorexia, sexual abuse, domestic violence… Or the set of a horror movie — you know, where the gorgeous girl and guy are getting it on in the backseat of a car, and the psychopath or monster appear? Pretty soon, my Jan-mind began to look for cracks in the facade and enjoy smug satisfaction upon finding them:

  • The centipedes
  • The elderly gentleman who booked my transportation to the airport. When I asked for clarification of my schedule, to ensure he understood I had an international flight with all the time requirement that implied, there was a second when the crack became a valley. Behind the determined cheer, that man was seething with hostility. I would not be in the least surprised to know he smiled at clients all day, then beat his wife at 9:03 every night. In fact, I wish he’d simply told me to go fuck myself. It might have spared her some bruising.

So *laughing* that probably wasn’t what you expected to hear, was it, even if it was honest?

And now, please be truthful with me. Tell me about your trips to Disneyland and how much fun you had. Tell me about your souvenirs. Tell me about the crocodile who grabbed a tourist in front of you with bone-crunching alacrity. Speak of the gristle extruding from his maw, and—

Oops. Looks like I haven’t quite shaken the Mickey mood. 😉


11 thoughts on “Why Disney Won’t Be Hiring Me Anytime Soon

  1. Bwahahaha! The closest I’ve come to Disney is visiting Epcot back in HS with our marching band. I remember feeling icky, but I’ve done my best to repress most memories of that period, so….

    You are a brave woman daring to face down the Mouse. I’m glad you have a good experience overall!

  2. I was creeped out by the lack of wildlife, for sure. I did see a teensy roach on the wall in one of the fancy restaurants, and to be honest it was kind of a relief. I didn’t know how they willed away giant insects in Florida in August.

  3. Tracey, my daughter did the same thing with her high school band. However, she never mentioned a sense of foreboding. 😉

    Eliza, I know! We don’t have cockroaches in Alberta. The geek in me would have been thrilled. But such was not to be.

  4. I don’t like clean or happy, either *shifty*

    But you bring up an excellent point about ‘appearances hiding the deeper issue’ and anybody too concerned having ugly skeletons to hide. It is my primary rift with my mother who thinks if you look good and keep moving, everything will be okay.

    I guess my take on Disney though, is sort of like my take on Vegas. If you give in to the cheese, you can enjoy it, even if it isn’t real. Both places are undoubtedly sick in their own ways, but then… I like horror novels, too… because I know it’s not real–I can’t just give into the fantasy and then leave it again.

  5. My experiences at Disney happened when I was a child, so it was happyhappyhappy, which turned me off then, because I was reading Stephen King and not so into Mickey & Company. Have you heard from their lawyers yet about your towel mouse-ears? Really, Disney started turning me off when they shoved the copyright issue into the courts so they wouldn’t have to release Walt’s critters into the wilds of the public domain.

    Methinks they’ve been on lock-down ever since.

  6. Well, contrarian that I am, I’ve always LOVED my Disney visits. 🙂 As a child I was enthralled with the TV show each week, mainly because of the picture of Cinderella’s castle in the closing credits, which would make me sigh and say, “If only”. LOL I was an adult before I finally got to go the first time, and I was thrilled.

    Is it realistic? No. But the same could be said of my other “escapes” (i.e., romance novels). LOL However, I would have had a fit and fallen in it if I’d been prevented from going outside after a rainstorm. (Just so you know my contrarianism goes both ways. LOL)

  7. Hart, maybe that’s my problem. I think I’ve developed a lactose intolerance for reals. 😉 But I see your point. I know for sure I would have appreciated the resort at a different level if I’d gone with young kids; as a single adult I find it harder to hit that mindset. (Probably shouldn’t be writing MG, hey?)

    T, would it surprise you to know my blog already showed up on a Disney-connected site? It collects weblinks of all things Disney…

    Donna, you are entirely allowed to enjoy your Disney experience! I, too, used to watch Sunday night TV. Those shows were a cornerstone of my life. I’m glad you could enjoy your much-delayed trip. 😀

  8. I don’t remember my one visit to Disneyworld. It was many, many years ago, when my grandmother caught a strange and fleeting case of generosity and sprang for a day at the theme park. I wish I remembered more of it, besides the fun of riding Space Mountain with my eyes closed and the literally paralyzing terror of being a highly impressionable child while experiencing the “extra-terror-estrial”… thing. It was like being put in a scene in a horror movie, with a very scary puppet illuminated by a flash of light for like two seconds. I didn’t even twitch the entire time, and cried for at least a full hour straight after that.

    But anyway, I love the way you describe the creepiness behind the perfect. I seriously want to use the concept of perfect-hiding-something-disturbing in a story now. Maybe several. I love writing horror stories.

    Excellent post!

  9. When the elements (which I adore as well, Jan) reminded us of it’s devastating affects in Nashville, I was happily stalking cover model Jimmy Thomas at RT’s conference and hearing of the flooding going on in Tennessee. The thought hardly crossed my mind that it would affect my plans. Poor me, right?

    I registered to attend RWA 2010 in January, hopeful and excited to relive the conference experience. I loved my 1st RWA last year in DC so much, I declared nothing would stop me from making it an annual event…that is until DISNEY was a forced plan B.

    My Disney experiences haven’t been all bad, but they have indeed fostered quite a few nasty thoughts: the gasp-inducing expense, the rude crowds, the smiling facades, and the inevitable rushing…alway’s rushing.

    Unless I’m alone with my kid-I will never go there again with my husband-I see no reason to go. Nope, it just ain’t for me.

  10. LilliCray, I loved your phrasing around your grandmother’s lapse. Yikes, that sounds like a traumatic experience. Perhaps it can let some verity to your story. Glad you enjoyed the post. 😀

    Gabriella, I would have loved to see your smiling face in Orlando, but I understand the decision. And yes, “gasp-inducing” is precisely the right term. :0

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